What if it turns out that the human genome holds the secret to alcoholism treatment? According to an article in News Medical
, UVA researchers are treating alcoholic patients with medication designed specifically for their unique genetic makeup. "Our findings suggest a new paradigm for the treatment of alcoholism, as well as a major breakthrough in individualized medicine for predetermined genotypes," says Bankole Johnson, MD, PhD, study leader, professor and chair of the UVA Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences.
Alcoholism Treatment Study
Serotonin is best known as the chemical released by the brain that makes us sleepy after a large Thanksgiving dinner. It plays a part in controlling our emotions, regulating pain, and various studies have even indicated that it plays a key role in controlling the "happy feeling" that comes from drinking alcohol. In fact, scientists have discovered that humans have unique serotonin transporter genes that affects how they respond to alcohol.
The Study & Results
A study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) tested 283 genetically-profiled alcoholics with a serotonin antagonist drug called Ondansetron. The participants received either ondansetron or a placebo for 11 weeks and all received standard behavioral therapy.
The study found that the ondansetron treatment did help to moderate the amount of pleasure an individual receives from drinking and relieved the "craving feeling" that they experienced when they stopped drinking.
Is this the Future of Alcoholism Treatment?
The benefits of this type of personalized alcoholism treatment is promising. Genome-based medicine has the potential to give patients and their physicians the ability to make more informed treatment decisions. Also this type of "personalized medicine" can help eliminate the trial and error approach often needed when prescribing medicine for an alcohol-addicted person.
Not all alcohol-dependent individuals are treated successfully with ondansetron, but researchers hope to identify other genetic variations in other alcohol-addicted people so that alternative medications can be found to treat them as well.
Looking for more information?
Are you looking for more information on alcoholism or alcoholism rehabilitation? Residence XII offers a variety of services including residential treatment
, outpatient programs
, and family programs
. Contact Residence XII
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or calling 1-800-776-5944.